The cervical vertebrae are the first seven vertebrae of the spinal column. Separating any two vertebrae is a soft, elastic material called a disc which acts as a shock-absorber and allows for movement of the head. However, age, wear and tear, or sometimes an accident can cause one of these discs to thin or rupture. This can result in the adjacent vertebrae getting closer together and pinching the nerve that exits between them. An anterior cervical discectomy is the most common surgical procedure to treat damaged cervical discs. This procedure involves making a small incision in the front of the neck. The tissues in front of the damaged disc are separated and the disc is removed. An interbody device packed with graft material is placed where the disc used to be to maintain the normal height of the disc space. Sometimes, additional bone graft material is then placed at the site to stimulate bone growth. The most conservative method for bone grafting is to use synthetic or demineralized bone matrix. A brace and screws are inserted into the vertebrae to provide stabilization so that proper fusion can occur after the surgery.
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